FW Finance FAQ: Winning Disputes With a Company That's Giving You the Run-Around

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Have you ever gotten the run-around from a company and finally just given up?

In my case, I bought $6000 worth of kitchen cabinets on my Menard's Big Card on Dec. 31, 2000. I'm supposed to get 1% back on purchases when they issue rebate checks in Feb. or so, but I didn't get my $60. So I called and whined. The CSR told me that the transaction had posted after the first of the year, so I would get the rebate the following year. I wrote down his name, extension number and the date of the conversation. A year later, no $60 rebate, and the games continued. I documented every time I called, and the stories they told me. "A lot of accounts were mixed up; we're sorting it all out; we'll issue your check within 10 weeks, etc."

Finally, I smartened up and filed some complaints with three agencies. Here are my suggestions:

Keep well-documented transcripts of any contact you have had with the company over this matter. Submit complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the State Attorney General's Office for the state in which the company is headquartered, and with the U.S. Postal Inspectors for mail fraud due to false advertising (if this applies in your situation). Submit all three complaints on the same day and wait about two weeks. When the company gets inquiries from these agencies, they have to spend a lot of time filling out paperwork to answer for themselves, and it's in their best interest to resolve the matter.

I ended up getting $100 in rebates, even though they only owed me $60. They also apologized.

These agencies all have online complaint forms for most locations. So it doesn't take you all day to file the complaints. You'll spend 30 minutes on the first complaint and then a lot of cutting and pasting to finish the other complaints much more quickly.

My question: what other means have you used to resolve a dispute with a company?

Credit Card disputes are covered in this thread.
Rebate Disputes are covered here.

If you have a telephone complaint, file a complaint with the FCC here: Filing a Complaint with the FCC Is EASY

File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection for Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints: Go Here and click on the "File a Complaint Online" button.

FTC Taking the "Bait" Out of Rebates

Some additional suggestions:

- Your state's Public Service Commission is extremely helpful in solving complaints with utilities, phone and cable services.

- Many states and cities have their own departments of consumer affairs that handle complaints.

- A polite, brief and clear letter to a company's CEO usually works wonders.

- Many people on FW have had good success with posting complaints on sites such as PlanetFeedback, although I have never gone this route.

- Appearing in person, if possible, is very effective, if such an option is available (i.e. a local office of the company).

- Getting print, television or other media coverage is the best revenge. Suddenly, the problem was a "misunderstanding" and all is resolved.

- Creating your own [company]sucks.com website is very fun and often gets results.

- Sue. In small claims court. In most states it costs about $15.

- Or, have a lawyer friend or a prepaid legal service write a letter on attorney letterhead.

Thanks for the info. This is why I like credit cards that credit your account MONTHLY with cashback rebates as opposed to annual rebates.

thanks for these helpful info.

and thanks Scrawney Wallet..great thread! I think this post should be incorporated into the FAQ topics somehow...

I once appeared on the local "consumer action" news segment when ZMAX auto lubricant tried to evade payment on their 150,000 mile warranty.....problem resolved.

I bookmarked this excellent post for easy reference to several places for filing complaints to resolve disputes. Thanks for this helpful information!

ScrawneyWallet, this is such a big help! I am always in so much trouble here. Couple that with always losing my wallet and I don't even know how I find my computer ever. I've already filed 2 disputes this week, and boy are those guys nervous. Thanks again. We need more fresh ideas like these.

I'll add this thread to FAQ (sticky)....what should we call it:


Since I have the second post in the sticky thread, I will be updating FAQs, so please help. I will try to place it in proper order and category, but if I'm not doing it right, please let me know.

Thanks Tooshy!
Links to Finance Forum FAQs here. Scroll down to the second post.

Nice thread, I've recently been scammed from an eBay seller. This is what he's getting

    - eBay negative feedback
    - SquareTrade @ http://www.squaretrade.com/cnt/jsp/index.jsp
    - FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center - http://www1.ifccfbi.gov/cf1.asp
    - Postal Inspector
    - Fraud.org @ http://www.fraud.org/
    - National Association of Attorney's General seemed useless to me but they're at http://www.naag.org/
    - My Credit Card company to request a chargeback (the only one that's doing anything for me, so far) Hopefully Paypal wont punish me too bad, I called up CS and told them that I will be doing this, and I want it documented that I will work with Paypal, but paypal or the other agencies have not worked for me, and I intend to do the chargeback before it is too late.

Updated to include LINK to interesting discussion on resolving disputes with rebate companies.

I've had terrible luck with getting any response from Best Buy from writing letter, even addressed to the CEO. As a result I don't make any major purchases through BBY, unless they're Free After Rebate.

I'll tell you, sometimes companies just don't listen even if you call their corporate office, etc. I even posted to several consumer complaint websites that try to help contact their upper level corpoate people, to no avail(this was OfficeMax.com by the way).

It took me finally just getting pissed and telling the BBB to beat them with their big stick(fines fines fines baby) to get the a-holes at OfficeMax to do something.

Don't get me wrong, it's not ALL the employees, some felt really bad that nothing was getting resolved and promised to get management to do something, but every time management did NOTHING. Someone needs to kick OfficeMax corporate's management in the behind. Jackasses, really.

When I have any problems I simply use Prepaid Legal. Basically I pay a small monthly fee ($26 though they have a $16 plan), to have access to top notch attorneys. When I have a problem, I simply call an 800 number and explain my situation to the provider law firm for my state. Within 24hrs an attorney that specializes in that type of law calls me back. I chat for a minute, he usually decides it would be in my best interest to write a letter, and a letter is written and mailed.

Sometime the next day (or day later), when the letter arrives, I get a phone call from whatever the company is that has been giving me a problem. The conversation goes something like this, "Hello", "Hi this is blabla from XYZ corporation, we got your letter from your attorney the other day, and I just wanted to call and tell you that the situation is being taken care of. We apologize it was not taken care of before", Then I say, "I'm glad to hear that, I will be sure to inform my attorney. Have a nice day". They say "bye", and sure enough in the next day or so I am credited for whatever I should be credited for, or they agree to do whatever it was that they were suppose to do.

This has worked for rebates, enforcing warranties, leasing issues, and employment issues (Employer refused to send my last paycheck), etc. I'm sure I could have spent a long time calling tons of different organizations like the better business burue, but its easier to just call Prepaid Legal. Besides, when it is applicable, the attorney usually sends a copy of the letter he sends xyz company to any appropriate organizations (I.E. The issurance commission when I had a problem with an insurance policy that was not cancled, despite my requests.)

Prepaid Legal also covers me for speeding tickets, IRS audits, defense if I am sued, and a 25% discount on all other legal services (though I have been lucky enough not to need any of these), . In addition, I get a will created for free with the membership, and updated every year. All of these things are just gravy for me, however. Just the phone calls and letters makes it worth it for me. The way I figuere it I've saved about $2500 this year alone, more if you consider the time I saved by having my attorney dealing with the situation. Its pretty cool.

Before some of you jump down my throat about being "sue happy", or "abusing the legal system". I would like to add that the Prepaid Legal will not write a letter on my behalf just because I feel like it. I have to have solid legal grounds. They also do not encourage sueing, and if I did sue someone I would get a 25% discount, which isn't THAT huge. I would argue that the preventative measures that are offered in this plan help make sure people do what they are suppose to do anyway, and prevent lawsuites. It would be difficult to use this plan in a negative fashion.

I would post a link for Prepaid Legal, but every time I do the moderators get mad at me for posting something with "refferals". A good friend of mine sells this product, so I usually direct people to his website, so he will get credit. However, if you want to know more, feel free to PM me, and I'll send the link over.

OfficeMax Corporate Headquarters
3605 Warrensville Center Road
Shaker Heights, OH 44122
216/921-6900 main phone
216/471-5154 main fax

Michael Feuer, Chariman CEO

Gene O’Donnell, Exec. VP, Merchandising & Marketing

Harold Mulet, Exec. VP, Retail Sales

Bob Islinger, Sr. VP, Marketing & Advertising

Jim Wuest, Sr. VP, Merchandising

Bob Pfefferl, VP Commercial Sales

Kevin Meek, Divisional VP, Corporate Sales

George Seitzinger, VP, Advertising

Ryan Vero, VP, E-Commerce

Joe Ozmina, VP of CopyMax

Rosalie Herdon, Marketing Manager, Call Center Sales
216/921-6900 x 3993

Cathy Trzaska, Marketing Manager CopyMax & FurnitureMax
216/921-6900 x 3159

Kristen Dunn, Marketing Manager
216/491-6900 x 3668

Duke Smith, Creative Director

Frank Murphy, Director of Creative

Heather Teske, Exec. Assistant

Bernny Thacker, Marketing Coordinator



Contact your states' Department of Insurance and file a complaint. Many are online.

BUMPing because I almost ended up writing a disputes FAQ. Perhaps SW can change the title to make this a FW Finance FAQ thread?

Thanks noksagt. I updated the title as you suggested.

Some companies will NEVER pay up the amount you are owed. No amount of complaining to any agency will change your situation.

If you feel that you are in this situation and you want to get some measure of REVENGE (yea, REVENGE, baby!) for all the trouble the company caused you, I would highly recommend the following strategy:

1) DAY 1: Call the company's customer line. Complain to them for as long as you can. Play dumb, act outraged, etc etc. Try to stay online for as long as possible: 60 minutes to 90 minutes should be ideal.

2) DAY 2: same as Day 1.

3) DAY 3: Same as Day 2.

4) DAY N: Same as Day N-1

Assume that each minute of phone call costs the company about $0.10 cents per minute plus $0.60 cents per minute (assuming $6.00/hour minimum wage) for a total of $0.70 cents per minute.

Thus if you follow the strategy above for, say, 5 business days during the day time, you will have caused the company a considerable amount of customer service expenses. If you don't have the time, you could ask your teenage kid to do this on your behalf, as some kind of prank game which I'm sure the kid will enjoy.

NET RESULT: The deep satisfaction of knowing that you have exacted your REVENGE on the company by hitting their bottom line in some way.

SIDE BENEFIT: Seeing the hit on their bottom line due to the customer service expenses associated with dealing with customer complaints, the company will improve their service or ensure that the situation will never happen again.

man that is a good one <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> but do u think these companies pay 10 cents a minute ? dont they just lease the lines for a lot less ?. Im sure they pay customer service reps but they would pay them anyway regardless of your call

vrb747 said:

<< man that is a good one <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> but do u think these companies pay 10 cents a minute ? dont they just lease the lines for a lot less ?. Im sure they pay customer service reps but they would pay them anyway regardless of your call >>

The more time they spend with a single customer, the less they have for other customers and the more people they have to hire to service the other customers. Thus it costs them more.

This post is great! I hate Amazon's rebates, and this Topic really helped me out! thanks a bunch

Sweet- after calling and e-mailing rebatestatus people, They finally consented and validated my rebates- thanks scrawny

A ton thanks for outstanding good info.

Good info thanks!

I have to get back the deposit that I have paid for a boat rental company. I tried calling many time but to no avail.

Great thread. I will say that Planet Feedback has worked wonders for me. Almost all cases are resolved when I submit them to PF.

I like how the oner user posts that he gets the top legal professionals in the country, through his $16 a month pre-paid legal. What a hoot.

If you cannot find the email address of a specific person and the company is ignoring you, email to all. all@domain.com; sales@domain.com; tech@domain.com, makeupyourown@domain.com

Eventually it has to reach someone!

As a college student, I daytraded in the year 2000 and had a large gain but was new. I didn't know that I had to file taxes at the end of the year. anyway, i lost all the money i made in the following year.3 years later i receive a notice to file with the irs so i do.

I owe 90,000 in taxes it turns out with penalties and fees, i get this letter as i just graduate from college. Obviously since i never took any money out, i had lost all the money in 2001 and i can't offset the gains in 2000 with the losses in 2001. I don't have any money so I hear this ad on the radio about a company called JK Harris. I finally decide to hire them when i got a letter in the mail saying that a lein and levy of my asets will be issued. jk harris says they help people like me and get the tax burden reduced to very little through a offer in compromise.

if you have ever dealt with the irs when you owe that kind of money, you know how stressfull and hopeless it seems, especially when you realize that this debt will pretty much ruin your life for the next 10-15 years. anyway, this company, they have such a fantastic marketing technique based on all lies. They took 1000 down and 2400 i was suppose to pay through installments. They said they would deal with the irs to prevent the levy. Its even on the contract, 750 dollar fee to prevent levy.
after paying i called them up the next week, no return of call. call again and the same thing happens, i get an operator that directs me to someones mailbox.
this happens for the next 4 weeks i call almost everyday, i called the supervisor and her boss....nothing. finally i called one day and my case worker, patti baker answers.
i confront her about the 20 mesaages i left in her mailbox. she slams the phone in my face.
then i get slapped with a federal tax lien.
i go to 2 seperate accountants and an tax attorneys to find out that an offer in comp would never work for me in the first place because i landed a job and as long as i have income i am liable for the taxes. meanwhile the interest increases the burden like 1000 a month and more with compounded.
so i fire jk harris and ask for a refund, they refuse to gve me my money back saying that i didn't cooperate.

i went to this forum at :
discovered i am not the only victim of this scam that takes lies to people in their time of distraught and takes their money. I'd like to know if anybody has had a bad experience with any company in general, what they did to get their money back and to report them, in order that this does not occur again.

ps the thing with jk they take your money and count on the fact since you are too stressed you will let them take it because your life is in the pits. think about it, how many people that need serious tax help for huge amounts of money are going to chase after the company. plus by the time you figure out that they are a scam, your neck deep in crap, much worse then you were before because for months you thought they were representing you with the irs when in fact they weren't doing didley.

Updated the OP to include link to FTC "Taking the "Bait" Out of Rebates".

good addition...rebates!<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-mad.gif" border=0>

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